Just so you know, right off the bat, these cannot be improved upon by using (murdering) a nice piece of fresh ahi tuna. Frozen might be excusable. They are quite excellent, in a groove of their own. This marvelous recipe converts canned tuna, yes folks, you heard it right, to... ta da....a new dimension. Originally inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe, considerably altered here, and again by me right here. So, you have the advantage of all the bugs being worked out.
Le Migliori Polpette di Tonno
I did not include directions for the marinara sauce. I think you can handle that. If not, or even if, there are some excellent prepared versions out there. The pasta as well, just use your favorite.
And, you will get no careful photos of the preparation. By the time we realized it was going to be post worthy, the meal was finished. So next day, before eating those two remaining Tunaballs for lunch, I quickly whipped out my camera.
For the Tunaballs
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 fennel bulb, outer layer removed and finely minced (or use celery if you don't have fennel)
2 cans tuna, drained and flaked
salt and pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, finely minced
4 anchovies, chopped and smushed
1/3 cup chopped basil
1 heaped tbsp capers, chopped
40g/ 1 1/2 oz grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
85g/3oz fresh breadcrumbs (whole grain are fine)
zest 1 lemon or use slivers of preserved lemon in the sauce as I did
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups Marinara sauce
Heat 1 Tbsp olive in in a large, heavy frying pan. Add the onion and fennel over a medium-low heat and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute of cooking. Remove to a bowl and allow to cool.
Add tuna into the onion mixture, flaking and lightly salt (remembering that anchovies and parmesan are salty) and pepper. Toss together with the anchovies and remaining ingredients, except the tomato sauce. Squeeze the mixture into balls using your hand. You really need to squeeze to get it to form into balls. You can make them any size you like but this will make 12 the size of a small scoop of ice cream. If you dip one of your hands in water while shaping, you’ll get a nice smooth surface on the tunaball. If the mixture’s very sticky, add a few more breadcrumbs. Place onto a baking tray lined with bake-o-glide or parchment, cover lightly with cling film and chill for half an hour.
Heat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Bake the tunaballs for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta. Heat about two cups of your favorite tomato sauce in a large saucepan, then add the finished tunaballs, stir to coat, and serve with extra shreds of parmesan or pecorino cheese over the pasta.
What is so great about this meal is not only the ease of preparation, and the fact that most probably all of the ingredients are right in your pantry and refrigerator at any given moment, it is really, really good. I have added it to that select list of dishes we have on a regular basis.